Monthly Archives: December 2014

River Ghosts

River ghosts can be sited all through the Yland, most often when the tides in Breakfast Creek are at their lowest. When there were moorings on the Sandgate Road side and people lived on the boats not long ago, a sailor/ gardener created an enviable kitchen garden in the rich wet soil alongside the wire fence.

Since the closure of the moorings the river ghosts float around a row of pointed white-capped columns close to the bank. I like to think these columns were placed there by Council in memory of the past tenants and that at low tide the tiny mangrove suckers hide the ghosts within them.

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In a street away from these lost moorings there’s a looking point where if you linger there on a rainy day the ghosts are almost visible at the end of the view: an astigmatic view reflecting the image with a slight blurring of its edges, and lo, there they hover.

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This isn’t a dreamy space though you have to be present with the street, the traffic, the slippery surfaces, the looking and reception. The distances are small and close and unless you’re on the Yland itself surrounded by your craft, plant your feet firmly.

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Architectural Fantasies – VERTIGO Barbara Penrose 2011

Happy New Year! 

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Screen Stories

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The TAB (Totalizer Agency Board) building by architect Geoffrey Pie connects function and form in a classic modernist manner unlike anything else in the Yland district. Signs, billboards and walls writ large with text and image are the norm here, this environment is an  ode to the idea of the tableau, of surfaces that actively engage the passing viewer with content, reducing the spaces between messages to a blur.

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I’d always resented the involuntary attention drawn out of me at every step by street signage, gone the intelligent glance or abstracted stare, enter a polarized experience of the referential sign relegating everything else to impenetrable reality.

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This experience of walking around with a head full of catchphrases has made me more analytical towards such signage and its part in my environment.  Opposition changes to difference and a more permeable kinship of billboard and sky.

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All week we’ve been thinking In terms of screens. A conversation we had with visitors to the studio last week brought up the current architectural code of using screens over blank buildings to create facades, street front visuals in the tradition of what Venturi called ‘the decorated shed’.

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Over the years we’ve developed commissioned screens in a variety of incarnations as roofs and walls. The main function in a permeable screen is to hold the eye by means of some visual or referential device on the screen plane. It doesn’t cover what’s behind it like a curtain, but discovers the site in another way for the eyes, as shapes bathed in a local light.

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So to start to deconstruct the Yland, we look, glance and stare at The TAB building, it externalizes its structure, ie the stair and lift well form a tower with ramparts to the central span, all in large mass concrete castings. there’s a clear reference to old castle architecture, also reinforced by its perched site overlooking the creek (moat) like an imperial dynasty gate house. The building functions partly as a sign with concepts of power and associations of history attached while the signage surrounding it: text, stripy graphics, photography in large scale, the branded environment, also trigger culture in the passing brain.

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The point we came to was in thinking of the signage as screens and frames, in an interview recently, the artist RH Quaytman says walls can by like pages in a book, movable and able to be cross-referenced.

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Billboards are large scale physical planes that block the vista just as roads are cut through it. We’ve started to see the roadway newly spatialized by the collage of signs that play a part in the discontinuity of the Yland environment along with the abrupt and edgy borders between businesses and their uneasy relationship with the creek.

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